Basic Care for Golden Hamsters

A golden hamster’s cage

You should get as large a cage as possible for your golden hamster so that they can get plenty of exercise (at least 75cm x 30cm x 30cm). Hamsters can travel up to 5 miles a night in the wild, so they need lots of exercise.

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Location

Your hamster’s cage should be indoors, out of draughts and direct sunlight. It should be away from busy or noisy areas, such as near a TV or music system, as noises and vibrations are stressful for hamsters. The temperature should stay between 18° and 21°C. If temperatures stay below 10°C they will become sleepy and start hibernating. A hamster can be good at escaping so the cage should be well secured.

 
The cage floor

hamster shavingsHamsters are naturally burrowing animals so a deep layer of shavings or potting compost should be provided at the bottom of their cage.

 
A nesting box

Hamsters need a quiet and secluded nest box where they will sleep during the day.

 
Bedding

Shredded paper (e.g. clean white kitchen roll), or cloth-based materials, should be provided as nesting material. Avoid newspaper because the ink can be toxic. Cotton wool shouldn’t be used because it can cause dangerous blockages if eaten and can become wrapped around legs, causing constrictions.

 
hamster hammock
Cleaning

The cage should be thoroughly cleaned once a week. It is recommended to leave a small amount (unsoiled) of their old bedding behind at each cleaning so that their familiar scents aren’t completely removed during cleaning.

 
Hamsters dislike any rapid change, so try not to alter their environment too much.

 
Company

Golden hamsters must be housed alone. They are different from dwarf hamsters, which should usually be housed together. Make sure you know whether yours is a golden hamster or a dwarf hamster – it’s an important difference!

 
climbing frameKeeping your golden hamster active and happy

As well as plenty of exercise, hamsters need things in their cage that they can climb on and explore. They should have an exercise wheel – but make sure it doesn’t have spaces between the rungs, as feet and legs can get trapped and broken between the gaps. They also need suitable toys such as cardboard tubes, as well as those made specifically for small animals like hamsters.

 
hamster seesawLadders, tubes, seesaws and untreated apple-tree branches are all available to buy.

 
A gnawing block should also be provided because this helps hamsters wear their teeth down.

 
flying saucerSo that your hamster stays stimulated and doesn’t get bored, you should offer different toys in different weeks. When a particular toy isn’t being used one week, this also gives you a good opportunity to clean it.

 
Hamsters are naturally burrowing animals so a deep layer of shavings or potting compost should be provided at the bottom of their cage.

 
Golden Hamster hiding a china pot
Peace and quiet

Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they become active at night, so they should be left alone and quiet during the day. Regularly waking them up during the day is stressful for them and can cause them to bite.

 
It is best to handle them during the early evening, when they have woken up and are active.

 
 
Handling

Hamsters should be carefully handled from a young age so that they become used to handling and aren’t scared of it. This will reduce the chances of them biting someone.

 
holding hamstersAlways be gentle. Both hands should be used as a scoop, and your hamster should be held low over a flat surface. Even a small fall can cause serious injury.

 
 


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